Potassium is a mineral that assumes various functions in the human body. It is also an essential micronutrient, which means that it is vital to ingest this substance through food.
Potassium is a so-called cation, this means that it is present in the human organism as an ion with an only positive charge. This property is essential for the role of this mineral in the human body.
The benefits of cation in our body
This micronutrient is the most important cation within human cells since it is involved in some processes in each cell of the human body.
The mineral participates in the formation of neuromuscular stimuli. Therefore, the body depends on the cation to transmit stimuli. This transmission of stimuli is vital for us. Because this is the only way our brain can tell our heart to continue beating.
We need potassium to make this process run smoothly. The cation not only participates in the transmission of stimuli. It is also important to regulate the growth of our cells.
In interaction with the mineral sodium, potassium “K” ensures the so-called osmoregulation in our body. Therefore, it influences the distribution of water in the human organism.
The mineral also participates in the regulation of acid-base balance. The acid-base ratio in our blood is also called the pH value. If the pH value derails, it will have negative effects on almost all functions of our body.
Potassium is responsible for the release of the body’s own hormones. The mineral is necessary, among other things, to release insulin from our pancreas for our metabolism.
Numerous studies have shown that adequate potassium intake can lower blood pressure. Blood pressure levels that are too high should be avoided, as they represent risk factors for a heart attack or stroke.
How much potassium is needed?
Since potassium is found in many foods, it is usually not a problem to eat enough. Those who follow a balanced diet and eat several servings of fruits and vegetables a day are generally well served.
The recommended daily dose for women and men is 4000 milligrams. Pregnant women should drink a little more, around 4,400 milligrams, per day.
“K” and “N”
It is not only important to ingest sufficient amounts of this mineral. The ratio of potassium to sodium is equally important. Sodium is largely absorbed through table salt. Avoid consuming more than 6 grams of sodium per day.
What to eat and what not?
Those who choose foods high in potassium and low in sodium eat healthily. This can counteract high blood pressure and promote heart health.
Sodium is found in processed foods such as prepared sauces, sausages, cheese, bread, and canned fish. Prepared meals, such as frozen pizzas, are mostly sodium bombs and, therefore, should be consumed as little as possible.
To keep the salt intake as low as possible, it is recommended to the season with pepper and fresh herbs. If salt is used, salt enriched with iodine should be used.
Unprocessed foods, such as vegetables or fruits, are particularly suitable for absorbing sufficient amounts of the cation. Fruits and vegetables, whether frozen or fresh, are also optimal because they are low in sodium.
Potassium rich foods
The vital micronutrient is found mainly in plant foods. Bananas, mushrooms, potatoes, beans, raisins, and soy milk are particularly rich in potassium.
Nuts such as almonds, pistachios, chestnuts, and cashews also provide a valuable mineral. There is even more valuable potassium in dried fruits and tomato paste.
What can I eat specifically to get my daily dose of potassium?
In the morning for breakfast two slices of whole wheat bread with delicious Camembert cheese. Also, add a kiwi. That makes 290 milligrams + 74 milligrams + 145 milligrams = 509 milligrams of the mineral.
At work, you can eat some mango (25 grams), which deliver 210 milligrams. Some almonds (20 grams) are also excellent (135 milligrams).
For lunch, there is a piece of cooked salmon (590 milligrams) and 200 g of potatoes (680 milligrams) and cooked Brussels sprouts (690 milligrams). A true cationic bomb with 1960 milligrams.
In the afternoon, a healthy mix of banana (550 milligrams), kiwi (145 milligrams), and sweet pepper (520 milligrams) provides 1215 milligrams.
The final result : 509 mg + 210 mg + 135 + 1960 mg + 1215 mg = 4029 milligrams of potassium.
Are supplements necessary?
Studies show that supplements are also effective and have a positive impact on our blood pressure. However, as is clear from the previous text, it is not particularly difficult to ingest sufficient amounts of the mineral through food.
A healthy and balanced diet is, of course, a prerequisite. Dietary supplements are more likely to be used with this mineral if there is evidence of a potassium deficiency and this cannot be covered by adequate food intake.
We may not have enough cation in our bodies. This condition is also known as hypokalemia. Symptoms of this deficiency include nausea, irregular heartbeats, and irrational behavior.
The causes of hypokalemia may be inadequate nutrition which can incur diseases such as diarrhea or vomiting. Certain medications can also help. Potassium deficiency should be avoided. If left untreated, it can have serious consequences, such as dehydration.
Some people do not lack the mineral but have too much. This condition manifests itself through symptoms such as ringing in the ears, numbness, hallucinations, and disorders of muscular and nervous excitability.
In extreme cases, cardiac arrest may occur. The cause is an alteration in the excretion of the mineral. This is usually due to kidney failure that requires treatment.